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Samsung Galaxy S21 5G Review

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Today, we have the Samsung Galaxy S21, which kicks out the year 2021 with a bang. Samsung has rescheduled its high-end S-series unveiling for January, and could there be a better way to start the year?We did say ‘bang,’ but it’s not the most thundering of those – we’ll now show you the tiniest, most basic of the three Galaxy S21 phones released. We also have the Ultra at the office, but you’ll have to wait a little longer for it – after all, no event opens with the headliner.

Samsung announces three phones as part of its spring flagship lineup for the second year in a row (despite the fact that it’s still very much winter, at least where we are). And, as before, there’s a clear distinction between the ultra-conservative Ultra and the two more restrained and down-to-earth’regular’ S phones. In fact, the chasm has become wider.

There are several instances, some of which are more noteworthy than others. Take, for example, the displays. Unlike last year, when all three phones had 1440p screen, the Ultra now has the higher resolution, while the’mainstream’ S21s have 1080p. In 2020, all three displays were curved; today just the Ultra is. The Ultra now has a more sophisticated Adaptive mode than the previous two S20s, which featured the same high-refresh rate implementation.

What about the security cameras? Regardless of whatever challenges it may have had with reaching the full potential of all of its great technology, the S20 Ultra had a far superior configuration than the other two. The S21 Ultra, on the other hand, expands on that by including even better imaging internals. Meanwhile, the S21 and S21+ repurpose last year’s components. Hmmmm.

There’s more, though. The last blow, in the instance of the little Galaxy S21 we have here, is the fact that it has a plastic back. It’s not the end of the world, and on the following page, we’ll explain why that’s really a good thing.

After all, certain genes are passed down down the generations. All three share the same chipset (although regional differences exist, but that’s another story), as well as Qualcomm’s second-generation ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, dual speakers, and an IP68 dust and water resistant rating. No, none of them had a microSD slot, which was a pleasant surprise.

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G specs at a glance

  • Body: 151.7×71.2×7.9mm, 169g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), plastic back, aluminum frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins).
  • Display: 6.20″ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1300 nits (peak), 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 421ppi; Always-on display.
  • Chipset: International – Exynos 2100 (5 nm): Octa-core CPU (1×2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A55), Mali-G78 MP14 GPU. USA/China – Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 (5 nm): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680; Adreno 660 GPU.
  • Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 11, One UI 3.1.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚, 1/2.55″ 1.4µm, Super Steady video; Telephoto: 64 MP, f/2.0, 29mm, 1/1.72″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS, 1.1x optical zoom, 3x hybrid zoom.
  • Front camera: 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm, 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS; Front camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 4000mAh; Fast charging 25W, USB Power Delivery 3.0, Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W, Reverse wireless charging 4.5W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, ultrasonic); NFC; FM radio (Snapdragon model only; market/operator dependent); Samsung DeX, Samsung Wireless DeX (desktop experience support), Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified), ANT+, Bixby natural language commands and dictation.

The phone itself and a USB-C-to-C connection are included in the box. That means you’ll need a USB PowerDelivery charger from the last few years, or a USB-A-to-C cable if you’re using an adapter that doesn’t have a Type C output.

Local restrictions in France expressly dictate that all phones sold in the nation come with a headset, as was revealed around the time of the iPhone 12 introduction. So, yes, S21s in France will come with the AKG-branded earbuds we’ve come to expect from Galaxies in recent years. However, there is still no charger.

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